Indigenous Fall Style Tour stops in Redmond: Event spreads awareness about organic, fair trade clothing

With the green movement in full swing, people are becoming more conscious of the choices they make in their everyday lives. From recycling and making their homes or businesses more energy efficient to buying organic foods and using alternative modes of transportation, many lifestyle changes are easy to make. However, one change that is just as easy but often forgotten is clothing. On Nov. 5, Louie Permelia in Redmond Town Center, gave shoppers an opportunity to see just how easy it can be to do something good for the planet while still looking good. The contemporary women's clothing boutique was one of six stops for the first-ever Indigenous Fall Style Tour, which featured organic and fair trade certified products from the Indigenous fall line, trunk show style. This was the second to last stop for the tour, which ended at the Louie Permelia store in University Village in Seattle.

Louie Permelia owner Toni Forseth and employee Beth Anne Caldwell examine a sweater featured in the Indigenous Fall Style Tour. Louie Permelia has been in Redmond Town Center since the mall opened in 1997 and is a contemporary women's clothing boutique. The store has been carrying the Indigenous clothing line for about a year and a half.

Louie Permelia owner Toni Forseth and employee Beth Anne Caldwell examine a sweater featured in the Indigenous Fall Style Tour. Louie Permelia has been in Redmond Town Center since the mall opened in 1997 and is a contemporary women's clothing boutique. The store has been carrying the Indigenous clothing line for about a year and a half.

With the green movement in full swing, people are becoming more conscious of the choices they make in their everyday lives.

From recycling and making their homes or businesses more energy efficient to buying organic foods and using alternative modes of transportation, many lifestyle changes are easy to make. However, one change that is often forgotten is clothing.

On Nov. 5, Louie Permelia in Redmond Town Center, gave shoppers an opportunity to see just how easy it can be to do something good for the planet while still looking good. The contemporary women’s clothing boutique was one of six stops for the first-ever Indigenous Fall Style Tour, which featured organic and fair trade certified products from the Indigenous fall line, trunk show style. This was the second to last stop for the tour, which ended at the Louie Permelia store in University Village in Seattle. The tour also stopped in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and northern California.

Tour stylist Courtney Fuchs said the goal of the tour was to spread awareness about organic and fair trade clothing.

“Nobody really wants to buy something from a sweatshop,” she said. “Nobody wants to buy something that’s polluting the planet.”

Fuchs said Indigenous is one of the first clothing lines to be fair trade certified by TransFair USA, a nonprofit that is part of the 20-member Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) and the only third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States. Indigenous, which was founded 15 years ago by Matt Reynolds and Scott Leonard and is based out of Santa Rosa, Calif., employs Peruvian garment workers who knit the clothes by hand and usually work in their own homes instead of factories. Fuchs said 75 percent — as opposed to the usual 50 percent — of the company’s production costs go to the workers, who are paid more than a living wage.

Reynolds, who is also the company’s president, said the fair trade label is empowering because their vision from the beginning has been to be a leader in fair trade and organic fashion.

“We have always put living wage and respect for culture at the top of our priority list,” he said. “The third party certification that we are getting now is just validating to us.”

Reynolds said the name Indigenous refers to the small-scale disadvantaged artisan groups they work with to create their clothes, many of which are composed of Indigenous talent from the Andes Mountains area.

In addition to its fair trade practices, Indigenous uses organic cotton and other natural fibers such as alpaca, silk and merino wool.

Fuchs said the phrase “organic clothing” has many people imagining frumpy and scratchy beige clothing, but Indigenous clothes are both stylish and comfortable.

“There’s nothing you give up to (buy organic clothes),” she said.

Reynolds added that the style tour was a way to connect with both socially and fashionably conscious consumers.

“We wanted to find ways to appeal to the cause-related passionista and the style-conscious fashionista, alike,” he said. “This was our way to connect to both!”

Louie Permelia owner Toni Forseth, who also owns the Seattle location, has been carrying Indigenous products for about a year and a half and said they have “sold really well.” She said many of her customers didn’t even know the clothes were organic — they bought the items because they were nice. Indigenous being an organic and fair trade clothing line was just a bonus.

“It’s been a great product for us,” she said. “There aren’t a lot of companies that have sweater lines like them.”

When she was approached with the idea of being one of the tour’s six locations, she was very excited and agreed as she is a consumer as well.

“I just love the long cardigans. They’re just easy,” she said. “You can dress them up or dress them down.”


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